DWAI First Offense

The following chart depicts penalties you may be facing if you have been charged with DWAI in Colorado and have no other alcohol-or-drug-related driving offenses on your criminal record:





2 days jail

180 days jail




Community Service

24 hours

48 hours


0 years

2 years


What is DWAI?

“DWAI” stands for “driving while ability impaired.” It is a lesser-included offense to DUI and DUID and can be established with much less proof or evidence. To be found guilty of a DWAI, the state of Colorado must establish that you were in physical control of a vehicle after or while consuming drugs and/or alcohol which impaired your mental or physical abilities to drive as normally capable to “the slightest degree.” A driver will be charged with DWAI if their BAC is less than 0.08% but over 0.05%. Colorado DWAI law instructs the jury (or finder of fact) that they may infer that the driver’s abilities were impaired if their blood alcohol content was between this range. Colorado DWAI law also allows the defendant to present evidence to rebut this legal inference. Even if your BAC is under .05, you can still be charged with DUI or DWAI if you show any signs of impairment or being under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both.

As noted in the above penalties chart, a first time DWAI conviction carries some very severe consequences. Not only do you face the potential loss of your driving privileges, but a conviction almost always leads to court-ordered probation, monitored sobriety, community service, drug and alcohol classes, court fines and costs, and even a potential jail sentence. A second time offender faces a mandatory one year of driver’s license revocation, a $1,500 fine and up to a year in jail plus a minimum mandatory two year probation sentence where another year of jail is suspended and can be imposed if you fail to comply with the terms and conditions of probation. In either case, you can also be required to perform community service, submit to monitored sobriety, and complete Level II substance abuse classes.

There are limited driver’s license consequences for a first-offense DWAI; however, depending on the circumstances of your case and the status of your driving record, you could be facing up to a one-year driver’s license suspension based on points accumulated against your driving record. Additionally, a conviction for DWAI will result in a Habitual Traffic Offender strike against your driving history. Therefore, it is imperative that you contact an experienced DUI defense attorney who can help determine what Colorado or out-of-state driver’s license consequences you may be facing.